The Good, Bad & the Ugly ft. Sunil Chhetri, Rafael Nadal and Arjun Tendulkar

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The Good, Bad & the Ugly ft. Sunil Chhetri, Rafael Nadal and Arjun Tendulkar

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SportsCafe Desk


Yet another week and the sports world many instances to offer across all the three aspects. From Rafael Nadal’s frustratingly domineering continuity at Roland Garros, to India’s brilliant Intercontinental Cup win, to the rise of underdogs in world cricket, we bring you the good, bad and the ugly.

The Good

The best thing that could happen to India this week in sport was them lifting the Intercontinental Cup. The supposedly warm-up tournament that had Kenya, Chinese Taipei, and New Zealand participating did fetch effective results as far as gauging players’ performance was concerned. Leading the side was Sunil Chhetri, who finished the tournament with eight goals from four games and consequently equaling Lionel Messi’s tally of goals at the international level. The tournament that began with a heartfelt message from the skipper, urging the people to come for the matches in a video clip, ended perfectly with his brace. And of course, the way the Blue Tigers went about in the campaign was encouraging. Given that the average age of the side is just over 27, the times ahead for the Indian football fans look promising as they participate in the Asia Cup and 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

In a sport as dominated as cricket by the chosen few, every underdog victory is encouraging. Afghanistan gave Bangladesh a reality as they completed a 3-0 whitewash of the T20I series. The series had everything - Rashid Khan’s brilliance, Afghanistan’s collective display and Bangladesh’s typical last-ball calamity. And the fact that the side stood up to the trust shown by India on them makes it all the more satisfying. They take on India next in a one-off Test match, which more than anything would prove their Test credential to world cricket. Another such encouraging outcome came in Scotland’s maiden win over England in a one-off game that was supposed to get England into the ODI mode. But, the game turned into a high scoring thriller as Scotland posted a mammoth target of 372 and England fell short by just six runs. These are exciting times for cricket. Coming after a heartbreak from the World Cup Qualifiers, where some poor umpiring in their match against West Indies was arguably a big reason for their elimination, this win should work as a huge boost for the country. 

The Bad

At a time when BCCI has been encouraged to take advanced steps towards for Women cricket, especially after their decent World Cup heroics last year, the Indian eves went down to a shameful defeat against Bangladesh Women side in the Women’s Asia Cup final. Prior to this, Harmanpreet Kaur-led team were also beaten by the same team in the group stages, which was their first Asia Cup defeat. None could have thought it would be repeated in the final again, and now the likes of Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj need to take a hard look at themselves ahead of the World Cup T20 later this year.

The next instance of something bad happening in sports world is subjective. It is said that back in the 1808, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had invaded Spain by trickery and Rafael Nadal, has been taking that revenge at Roland Garros since he has started playing. The muscular tennis ace’s dominance in French Open remained intact on Sunday as he lifted the 11th title as his fans looked not so delighted by the repetitive feat. While his unparalleled ability will be talked about for ages to come, this is discouraging for the upcoming generation. With Roger Federer already leaving clay out of his season and Novak Djokovic searching wandering in obliviousness, there seems to be no stopping the king of clay. It isn’t as if the next generation is blunt with the talented likes of Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov all coming to the fore, but such invincibility could be harmful. Despite all my admiration and adulation for the Spaniard, I sincerely think he needs to be seriously challenged in the competition.

The Ugly

All Sachin Tendulkar fans were greeted with the great news of his son Arjun Tendulkar making it to the India U-19 squad for the upcoming Sri Lanka tour. However, no sooner had the compliments started coming in than the twitter was flooded with negative posts with the nepotism comments. While many pointed out that Arjun, who is primarily a left-arm seamer, was part of Mumbai’s Under-19 squad last year during the Cooch Behar Trophy, managing to take 19 wickets, others came up with names like Himachal Pradesh's Ayush Jamwal’s, who had secured 50 wickets but got ignored, or Tipendra Gada, who ended GPL as the highest run scorer but wasn’t selected. We hope Arjun keeps all these distractions out of the way and focus on his game.

Another shameful incident that took place on Sunday was Rahul Aware’s absence from the trials of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) ahead of the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The boycott of the event was basically against the partial decision taken by the federation towards grapplers Sushil Kumar and Bajrang Punia as they were exempted from appearing for trials. They got direct entry to the Asiad organizers. The CWG gold medalist was furious with the treatment meted out to him. 

“I thought that the exception will be made in my case. But I was shocked to learn about the WFI’s biased approach. Since 2014, I have defeated Amit twice during the Rio Olympics and CWG qualifiers. I have even defeated Sandeep on a couple of occasions during trials. I will approach the higher authorities,” Aware said.

Aware was almost unstoppable in the CWG 57 kg category wrestling, where he won the gold. And it would be a huge miss for the country if he misses the squad going to Asian Games scheduled to be held in August later this year. 

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